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THIS YEAR’S HISTORY FOCUS

“Bridges of Hope:
Churchwomen At Work in the Mill Mission Era” 

Between 1895 and 1930 more than 30 “mill missions” were added to the list of Episcopal churches in North Carolina. An important feature of the successful missions was the presence of paid (not much!) women workers, from both North Carolina and beyond. Many were deployed and paid by the United Offering, as it was known until 1920. In addition to the official United Offering Workers, others were recruited and paid by the local diocese or sponsoring parish. These workers identified closely with this era’s settlement work movement which sought to improve all aspects of life among newly displaced groups: education, recreation, hygiene, personal development, and religious training. Their work was complimented by the dedicated spiritual, physical and financial support offered by many Woman’s Auxiliary groups throughout the state.

In addition to a short introduction by Lynn Hoke, ECW Archivist/Historian, we will also have an exhibit documenting the history of several mill missions. And – you will hardly be able to miss seeing a multitude of table cards, as seen below, each with a short description of how a different woman or group was engaged in “bridge building” during this era of dislocation, disorientation, and sometimes despair.

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“A Great Deal of Social Service Work is Done”

At All Saints’ Church in Roanoke Rapids the women are organized into four circles of the Woman’s Auxiliary and a branch of the Ladies’ Guild. The first circle, the regular parish auxiliary, meets every week. The first week in the month is given over to study. A great deal of social service work is done and great enthusiasm is shown in the study classes. Weekly study classes are held in Lent. The second circle is composed of young business women, who are busy in the banks and mill offices all day and do their Church work at night. They do a good work in supplying the clothing for an orphan at the Thompson Orphanage. Their parish worker reads The Spirit of Missions at every meeting. The two circles of the women who work in the cotton mills are purely missionary in character.

The Rev. Lewis N. Taylor, “A busy Parish Among the Cotton Mills of the South” Spirit of Missions, March 1925, p. 171